You can't save them all...
Updated: Nov 29, 2018
Farming isn't easy. However, being a woman, it makes it really tough to handle those times when crisis is here and choices have to be made. My husband and I compliment each other very well when it comes to these circumstances - I think and feel with my HEART and intuition, and he thinks and feels with his MIND and rationale. That isn't to say that we don't possess both of those attributes each, as my husband has also broken down and shed a few tears during our struggles to save lives on the farm.
2017 was an extremely ROUGH year for us in farming. It is in part to just moving to the ranch and trying to build out to suit all the animals (as well as ourselves, which is still on-going), but also due to weather and... circumstances.
CIRCUMSTANCES YOU CAN'T CONTROL: We lost one of my favorite doelings at 5 months of age because she was butted in the ribs/stomach and developed internal bleeding. She died in less than a day and a half. We lost our favorite Suri Alpaca on Thanksgiving because as we were eating our family meal - she choked on her hay. We had one little goat develop Lymphoma Cancer and she not only suffered from it, but aborted her buckling with only 1-2 weeks to go for birth. Another wether of ours got his jaw broken by the bucks he was in to keep company, and suffered for months where we fed him MUSH twice a day and kept him in with the babies to recover and rest. We finally had to put him down because he was suffering. We had 2 lambs and 1 doeling that didn't make it due to bloat. And, we had to put another doeling down, and three of our dogs down due to unforseen injuries/health issues. All in all, we buried TEN of our fury kids on the hill last year. It BROKE MY HEART!!
That being said...there are CIRCUMSTANCES YOU CAN CONTROL:
We learned and continue to learn through each loss how we could better manage our farm to avoid future loss:
- We took down the large barn we built and make small and cozy condos for all of the goats and sheep. The size difference not only holds in warmth better, but makes them snuggle closer for added warmth and cuts down the drafts.
- We have now learned how to intubate lambs/kids to avoid future bloat issues.
- We have learned to NOT feed a sick baby until you know if they have bloat or if they are under their normal temperature.
- We have wrangled 400 pound calves to give them shots to get over pneumonia which sets in extremely quickly! We also have now purchased a gun that will administer shots as needed to the large cattle, and saved our prized bull because of it - again pneumonia.
- I have learned to worm every three months no matter what to avoid coccidia ocurrances and CDT is given annually and to babies at one month.
- I keep on hand Vitamin B, Selenium gel, and antibiotics at ALL times, and it has saved two rams, and two babies because of it.
- I have kept records of all 'couplings' with my goats/sheep and pay attention to them each day, so I KNOW when they are going to kid/lamb.
But even with the best of planning, you can still be surprised. Just this week, a first freshener mamma-goat gave birth, not in her warm and sheltered house, but outside in a storm with freezing temps and rain. I had checked on mamma at 10 p.m. the night before, snuggled in her house. I ran out at 5 a.m. to check on her to find her frantic that her baby wasn't up and moving. The baby was laying completely cleaned up, but frozen stiff to the ground in the weather. It looked dead, and when I went to pick it up only the tiniest of eye movement occurred. I took the doeling into the house and warmed her up slowly with my body heat and a towel with a heating pad on the other side. I was prepared for the loss, as she was already doing the backward head roll of death, but I kept trying. I rotated the baby every ten minutes. I held her little frozen hooves in my hands to get them warm, and stimulated her by rubbing, patting and talking to her. I put my finger in her mouth to warm up her mouth. She responded as she warmed to my touch, and gave her first squeek. That was a glorious moment of hope that she COULD make it. I kept doing all of that but added in a tiny bit of selenium gel, tiny bit of Vitamin B and eventually a tiny bit of sugar on her tongue to get her suckling. She started holding her head up and making movements as she warmed and long story shortened...we had one beautiful MIRACLE that day. It was a full day process, but she not only made a full recovery, but she was returned successfully to her mamma who was very thankful to have her baby back and has been a wonderful mamma since! Thanking the LORD for his mercy. Sometimes our answers are NO from him...but sometimes they are YES :-) They are ALL his little lives to hold in HIS hands.
Morale of this story is that LOSS is part of FARMING - it WILL happen, and typically will happen many times over. Some circumstances you can control and some you can't. Even if you THINK they are dead, keeping trying any way because there MAY be a chance to revive life even upon the brink of death. The key is to not give up on them, on YOU, on Farming and ...keep learning as you go!